More police officers could be charged in the Blue House brothel case, but that possibility doesn’t “negate the guilt” of the three officers who already were indicted, according to the Office of the Attorney General.
A defense attorney in the case has argued that prosecutors have been unfair by indicting some police officers in the Blue House case while ignoring allegations against others, but a prosecutor has called this argument “nonsensical.”
Assistant Attorney General Nelson Werner said this in Superior Court of Guam documents filed earlier this week. More than 100 pages of documents were filed in the case shortly before a motion cutoff date on Monday.
Three officers were indicted in the Blue House case — Mario Laxamana, Anthony Quenga and David Manila. In a motion to dismiss, Manila’s attorney has alleged that more officers are identified and accused in confidential documents.
“First, at this juncture, there are only three officers that have been accused of misconduct in connection with Blue House,” Werner wrote “… Furthermore, defendant Manila’s attempt to (publicize) the names of these other officers appears to be more sensationalism than an attempt to secure justice.”
Werner was responding to a motion to dismiss by defense attorney William Pole.
Pole argues that discovery documents filed in the case include allegations against at least 11 other police officers, and that prosecutors have shown no evidence that they investigated the allegations against other officers.
Discovery documents are confidential documents accessible only to attorneys in the case. None of the officers who allegedly are identified in the discovery documents have been identified publicly.
Regardless, Pole has said the unprosecuted officers are evidence of “prosecutorial vindictiveness.”
In the response filed Monday, Werner neither confirmed nor denied that the discovery documents implicate other police officers, but he did say the documents identify some other officers and “possible defendants.” The investigation into the Blue House brothel continues, Werner said.
“Suffice it to say, if charges are warranted, they will be brought but not on the timetable demanded by the defense,” Werner wrote. “If there is probable cause to charge them at some later time they will be charged.”
In another motion, Pole took his allegations even further, arguing that prosecutors stopped witnesses from testifying about the involvement of other officers during grand jury proceedings. Grand jury proceedings determine if prosecutors have a strong enough case to indict a suspect. They are closed to the public.
In response to these allegations, Werner argues that only pertinent testimony is provided during grand jury proceedings. Prosecutors were seeking an indictment against only three officers, so only testimony related to those officers was pertinent, Werner said.
The Blue House lounge was a Tamuning brothel that masqueraded as a karaoke bar from 2004 to 2008. Brothel owner Song Ja Cha already has been sentenced to life in prison in federal court, but the local court case has expanded to include police officers. All three officers face allegations of kidnapping and prostitution, and Manila and Quenga have been accused of rape.
Lengthy arguments on the pending motions are set for Dec. 24. Jury selection is scheduled for early January.
Motion for severance
The numerous court arguments submitted on Monday pertain to several motions to dismiss the Blue House case before it goes to trial — and at least one motion that would create multiple trials.
Laxamana, one of the police officer suspects, asked for his trial to be severed from that of the other defendants, which would mean his trial would be held separately. If Laxamana’s motion for severance is granted, Manila wants a separate trial also, according to court documents.
Werner has opposed the request for separate trials. The prosecutor wrote in court documents that the allegations against the Blue House suspects are intertwined, and the vast majority of evidence in the case applies to all of them.
Finally, one of the defense attorneys in the case has asked to withdraw.
Leevin Camacho, who represents Quenga — the third police officer suspect — argues that he must withdraw because he has previously represented Saknin Weria, who will be a witness in the upcoming trial.
It is unclear which attorney will take over representing Quenga if Camacho withdraws from the case.